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A Decade Lost, Theater's Poles Return

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A year ago, theater co-founder Harry Kollatz Jr. called Councilman Bill Pantele, a long-time supporter, to inquire about where they could find the building's original fire poles. To keep them from being stolen, the city had removed them in the early '90s when the station was decommissioned,. "They'd existed in my mind as vague rumors," Kollatz says.

Pantele asked around but no one seemed to know the poles' whereabouts. In December, he says, he received a letter from Kollatz that said, "And by the way, when the hell are you going to get us this fire pole?" The councilman wrote to the fire department, which recently found them tucked away in a fire station in Highland Park. Kollatz imagines them hidden in a vast jumble of relics — "Like Citizen Kane's basement. Like the end of Raiders [of the Lost Ark] — crates and crates and crates."

There were rumors, Kollatz says, that one had been cut up, or one had been lost. But he found the poles intact, though tarnished. Each is 24 feet of brass, weighing 150 pounds, and would cost about $2,200 new.

He's thrilled they're coming home in time for the theater's 10th anniversary in October. But, Kollatz says, "I just don't know exactly where they're going to go quite yet." Originally, the two poles stood in front of the two smaller entrances (not the arched green doors for the trucks). But they probably can't be restored to either spot — the light-and-sound booth blocks one door, and the other is now the entrance to the theater. The holes above have long been sealed off.

"We also have to arrange it so no one can try to slide down [the poles], because that's an insurance risk," Kollatz says.

Next question: "So where's your Dalmatian?" —

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